After last night’s showing of The Dark Knight Rises, all the major summer movies (or the ones I saw, at least) are done. Here’s a short review of each.
The Avengers – Good
Total awesome sauce. Whedon is really in his element here, making sure he’s remembered as a popcorn auteur and putting his name up there as the go-to guy for super-team action movies. His day has finally dawned. Despite its slow-burn of a plot, there are plenty of things done right, splitting up the team, making one of them evil for a while, rivalries and jokes. The final sequence feels straight out of Transformers, but even so, it features some of the most recognizable and longest-loved pulp characters of all time, so I felt some good chills up my spine. Hulk smash!
Prometheus – ummm…
My loyal readers may remember what I thought of this one. So there’s not a whole lot more to say. Avoid this one like the plague.
Amazing Spider-Man – poop.
This one wasn’t offensive, but it still gave me the feeling of watching millions of dollars being slow-roasted over a campfire (and then somehow getting all of that money back in the first weekend). Well, it’s a nutty world out there and Amazing Spider-Man may be the nuttiest superhero film I’ve seen in a while. It starts out well enough, with a conspiracy plot involving Peter Parker’s parents replacing the old Uncle Ben dies to teach Peter a lesson bit…but then it spends the next 40 minutes retreading the old Uncle Ben dies to teach Peter a lesson bit. Except he kind of doesn’t really learn anything. It’s just sad and stuff. Also there’s a mad lizard scientist threatening to turn the New York into a city full of lizard people. Baby, start me out with Spider-Man in a city full of lizard people and you’ve got my attention. Unfortunately, this one wastes it with bad dialog (that seems entirely predicated on Garfield and Stone’s inherent adorableness). Really, the movie lost me when I saw lithe, hip Andrew Garfield slink into his high school in an H&M jacket and a skateboard under one arm. I thought we were past the ‘wears glasses = uncool’ thing when glasses became cool. No more funny business, Sony. If you’re going to have the right to screen the Webs, it’s time to live up to it with a serious overhaul. Like this.
The Dark Knight Rises – Good
This movie is not the sucker punch that The Dark Knight was, but I found it to be much more fun. Christopher Nolan’s Bat trilogy comes to a close with a great sense of relief as the action stays gripping, the themes stay compelling and the characters get even more rootable. It’s all there, folks and there’s even some good old fashioned, sugary fan-service mixed into the spartan sets and the bleak situations. In fact, the only thing wrong with The Dark Knight Rises, is not knowing exactly when to fist-pump. It’s a little choppy, often unnecessarily so, a meal that you wish was given a little more time to stew in the pot instead of dished out in such uneven courses. But it’s all there, seriously. There are great character moments, great heroic ‘go get-em’ moments, great comic moments (the homage to No Man’s Land transformed the film into a particularly compelling scenario) great reveals and most of all, a satisfying answer to the question posed by Alan Wayne in the first film: Why do we fall? I applaud Nolan for not leaving our characters in the attractive twilight that lent so much post-modern weight to the previous installment, The Dark Knight. Instead he takes it back to the first film’s roots: omens, redemption, resurrection. Actual bats show up again. Symbols and souls are discussed and the film’s second half is a hair-raising homage to the enduring themes of resurrection. It’s good to see Nolan bringing things full circle, back to the symbolic and spiritual weight of the characters themselves instead of just another installment of The Departed with Batman in it. Most masterfully of all, he forces Batman to become Batman again, managing to even make the final installment a kind of re-origin story. That’s never been tried before. The third installment is usually just a climax. Nolan has given us a true rebirth.
He Rises! He Rises!